May 27, 2018
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Bangor fair ride passes safety check, draws long line

By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff
Updated:

A Bangor State Fair thrill ride similar to the one that failed in Ohio, killing one, had the longest line of any mechanical attraction in the opening hour of the fair.

Fairgoers on Friday flocked to the Freak Out — which is similar to the Ohio State Fair’s Fire Ball ride, and manufactured by the same company — the same day that it passed additional safety checks.

“This is the best ride,” said Danielle Blakeman, 13, of Eddington, who stood in line with a group of friends for nearly 40 minutes to get on the ride. “It’s everybody’s favorite.”

She has ridden the Freak Out numerous times, and said she was not concerned about riding it after Wednesday’s tragedy in Ohio.

[Bangor State Fair officials plan safety check for ride after death of man in Ohio]

E.J. Dean, president of Fiesta Shows of Seabrook, New Hampshire, which has operated the rides for the Bangor State Fair for two decades, had ordered extra inspections for the ride, which has been used in Bangor for the last 11 years.

The bars that hold passengers in the ride are structurally sound, said Scott Shanaman of Aerial NDT Inspection Inc., of Milton, New Hampshire.

“It’s as tight as you can get it,” Shanaman told Greg Day, inspection supervisor for the state’s fire marshal’s office, who was at the fair Friday morning doing follow up inspections.

Shanaman did ultrasonic thickness testing “in the areas of the ride that [are] similar to the area where they had a problem in Ohio” to check for faults like corrosion, cracks, flaws and other imperfections, he said.

“This is nothing required,” Shanaman said. “This was requested by the ride operator to be prudent. It’s going above and beyond because of what happened.”

Day inspected 26 rides, including the Freak Out, on Thursday, and returned Friday to do follow up inspections on four rides with minor issues.

“It meets all the safety criteria,” Day said of the Freak Out.

[Ohio reels from what Gov. John Kasich calls ‘worst tragedy in history’ of state fair]

KMG, the Netherlands company that manufactures both rides, issued a notice to operators telling them to shut down the Fire Ball — but the order does not affect the Freak Out.

Bangor State Fair organizers say they’re not worried about the ride.

“It was already in place before the [Ohio] accident happened and has been at the fair many previous years as one of the most popular rides,” Joe Imbriaco, general manager of the Cross Insurance Center, which operates the annual fair, said Friday.

The Fire Ball holds 24 people in six gondolas that face each other and spin at a speed of 15 mph while attached to a long swinging arm that swings up to 120-degrees with a maximum height of around 65 feet.

The Freak Out is slightly smaller, holds 16 people and swings front to back, instead of from left to right, according to the KMG website.

KMG requires that the Freak Out be inspected annually with magnetic particle tests and the ultrasonic thickness testing, which was done earlier this year by Shanaman, said Chris Chagros, site manager for Fiesta Shows.

 


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